Video Series Part 1: Choosing a Web Host for Your Video Web Site

Hostway Tech Team - May 28, 2010

By Melissa J Luther

Video Web sites are popular because people like watching video better than reading text, especially on a computer screen. There are multitudes of video hosting sites that will allow you to upload your videos to share. You can even create your own “channel” on some of those sites. Many small businesses use these sites to share recorded webinars and advertising messages.

But what if you want more control over your content? You might want to create your own video Web site or add them to a subdirectory of your existing site. What should you look for in a Web host for a video Web site?

To start, whether your Web site is video or text based, your Web hosting company should offer at a minimum:

  • Excellent customer service: Not only good sales service, but 24/7 technical support is a top requirement.
  • 99 percent + uptime: Many Web hosts now guarantee 99.9 percent uptime, so any host that can’t offer at least 99 percent shouldn’t even make your short list.

Beyond these requirements, you’ll need to decide what method of video streaming you intend to use. There are two main types:

  • True Streaming: Your video file arrives at your visitor’s computer in a steady stream of data that is immediately viewable. True streaming video requires a special streaming server, so if you intend to use this, you’ll need to find a host that offers streaming video packages.
  • HTTP Streaming: This is not really streaming, because your video file is actually downloaded to your visitor’s computer, usually to the temporary folder, before the viewer can see it. This does not require any special software, is less expensive than true streaming and can be done with any host.

Regardless of the type of streaming, you’ll also want to consider:

  • Quality servers: Even if you don’t need specialized streaming, make sure the company offers optimized servers with good stability and performance.
  • Support for common media files: Most host servers do recognize the most common video files (Real Media, Windows Media, QuickTime, MPEG-4 and Flash), but it’s worth asking before signing up.
  • Bandwidth: Most Web sites never come close to the allowed bandwidth usage, but video can eat up bandwidth quickly, especially if your site is popular.
  • Automatic Upgrade options: Web sites often need time to grow, so many owners start with a basic package and upgrade as their needs expand. Make sure that your host will automatically upgrade you if your usage exceeds your current plan. If a video goes viral, your site’s popularity could explode, and you don’t want it to be unavailable due to exceeding limits.

While true streaming does offer some advantages over HTTP streaming, it can be expensive, so most small businesses stick with HTTP streaming. This usually also means you can keep your current host and just add another domain.

About the Author

Melissa J Luther, owner and founder of LookSee Information Solutions, LLC, helps small businesses create and maintain a strong Internet presence. She takes a multi-channel approach, with a well-optimized Web site as the center of an Internet presence that includes content creation, PPC advertising, linking and social media as appropriate.

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